When John Tummons left his job as a high school ag teacher to work as a professional development specialist at the University of Missouri in 2008, he took a huge pay cut. However, his skills were recognized immediately, and he was able to move up quickly and do what he loves.
“Everything worked out the way it was supposed to,” said Tummons, assistant teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies, MU agricultural education and leadership.
It was at MU that Tummons was told by a supervisor that he had a God-given talent for working with people and connecting with youth. Tummons now teaches about three classes a semester and one summer class.
In addition, he donates time to the National FFA Organization, even though his work and life schedules are hectic. From judging career development event contests to attending state and national conventions, his ultimate goal is to recruit these young students to the Agricultural Education and Leadership program at MU.
He spends at least 15 hours a week raising about 35 head of cattle. Tummons said that having a farm background is important for someone in his position because it gives him creditability and an instant connection with his students. He said you can lose an important connection when you don’t share that similar experience.
“We raise cows because I want my kids to learn those life lessons of growing up on a farm,” Tummons said.
Tummons said he uses many lessons he has learned through teaching with his two children at home. Good character, integrity and respect are often mentioned. Being mature and responsible have always been expected. Tummons believes that giving children responsibility helps them learn.
When teaching, Tummons is a firm believer in the power of failure. Learning how to deal with failure is a daily concept included in his teaching methods. Tummons said sometimes that means letting people fail so that that they can learn from mistakes. He likes to give students high expectations and then coach them through challenges.
“Solving every problem for a child leads to an ineffective adult,” Tummons said. “Failure is going to happen in life, and you have to learn to persevere through that.”
Tummons believes that saving people from failure when they are young sets them up for a bigger failure down the road. But helping students learn to deal with failure now, will help them when they are in the real world and have a job. It will be important for them to know how to handle it, he said.
“There is a universal love for Tummons,” said Adam Cletzer, assistant professor in agricultural education.
Cletzer mentioned that when he nominated Tummons for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Excellence Award it wasn’t difficult to find past students to write letters of recommendation. Micah Baily, an advisee of Tummons, expressed how helpful Tummons always is.
Tummons has advised Baily for over a year, and Baily said that Tummons has always been approachable. Cletzer and Baily both mentioned that Tummons is someone who always knows what he is talking about and gives good advice.
“I feel like I can go to Dr. Tummons about anything, besides just classes.” Baily said.